VOMB staff report
Officials at the Monterey County Public Health Department announced today they would start sending informational updates with local coronavirus news daily.
Earlier this week, the officials said they would send the updates once a week, citing a staff shortage.
But leaders of six different news organizations, including Voices of Monterey Bay, pushed back on the policy, sending a letter to Dr. Pedro Moreno of the Health Department early Friday urging him to reconsider.
The email, drafted by Sara Rubin, editor of the Monterey County Weekly, sought improved communication with local journalists. Local media has been unable to gather basic information about local preparedness measures in the community from the county, and reporting of new cases has been piecemeal and reliant on local hospitals.
“This is absolutely unacceptable to the public, and to us in the press,” said the letter to Moreno. “Our combined tens of thousands of readers, listeners and viewers rely on us to provide accurate and up-to-date information. Your shelter-in-place order defines journalists as ‘essential’ services in this time. We require your essential data in order to fulfill our essential obligation to the public.”
About four hours after the letter was delivered to Moreno, a county spokeswoman sent messages to representatives of the media that the Health Department is “changing its plan” and would be updating its websiite daily. “Please be aware, the data will only report cases which have been confirmed,” said spokeswoman, Maia Carroll. She added that updated local date can be found on the Health Department’s information page (www.mtyhd.org/covid19), using the “Testing and Case Numbers” link.
Have something to say about this story? Send us a letter.